"One man's trash is another man's treasure," says Carlene. She and her husband Bill have on display, in two rooms of their home, at least three, possibly more, generations of two joined families hers, the Youngs, and his, the Williamses.
Carlene's family was in the grocery business in Webster County, Mo. Her grandfather was W.E. Young. "He mortgaged a horse to buy his first country store, Beach Grocery," Carlene said.
His son, Carlene's father, Carl and Glessie Young, carried on the business, building a shopping center, Young's Shopping Center, that housed a grocery store. That store was sold to the Ramey Supermarket chain in 1983.
Carlene was an only child. Bill Williams was also an only child, and that might explain the "stuff" the couple has accumulated over their 50 years of marriage, which they will celebrate May 29.
The couple met in 1953 while attending SMS. They were on a geography bus trip. They married in 1955, three days after Carlene graduated from college. Carlene jokes that her mother said she never even knew she graduated.
Bill brings to the collection of "stuff" three generations of the newspaper business. His grandfather, O.B. Davis, worked at the Douglas County Herald in Ava since 1897. He worked in the business as a young man in his early twenties. "He had a hand-fed treadle press. There was this fellow that worked for him that hummed while he worked. If he hummed slow the old press went slow. My grandfather would always try to get him to hum a lively tune so the work would go a little bit faster," Bill said.
Bill's father, R.H. Williams, and his mother, Fae, owned and operated the Republic Monitor in Greene County for several years. Their's was a small market and they were in competition with the Springfield News Leader, one of the largest newspapers in the state. They heard of a small newspaper for sale in southern Missouri. In 1929, at a cost of $5,750 they bought The Thayer News. Bill said his father-in-law had to borrow $2,000 from his father-in-law to make the purchase.
"The office was located at 215 Chestnut Street in Thayer. In October of that year the worst depression that ever happened to our country hit. The stock market fell and southern Missouri was not spared. My dad told the story about when times were hard and money was tight. People would make trades for newspaper subscriptions. One fellow traded his rocking chair for a year's subscription to The Thayer News," Bill said. That rocking chair is one of the items on display among the Williams' "stuff."
Bill was born in 1933. He never thought much about doing anything but joining the family newspaper business. After the couple married, Bill entered the Army. Carlene stayed in Germany with him for 10 months, then came home to Missouri in November 1957 to give birth to their daughter Barbara Dea. Carlene taught school at Thayer for 15 years. A son, Mark Allen, was added to the family. Mark is a fourth generation printer. Mark and his wife, Amy, have two sons, Garrett and Brennen. They operate Alphagraphics in Brentwood, Tenn. The Williames lost their daughter Barbara to cancer in 1994.
When Bill came home from Germany in 1957 he entered the family newspaper business full time. "He did everything," Carlene said.
At one time the Williames owned The Thayer News, The South Missourian Democrat and the Spring River Times. They sold The Thayer News in 1983. Williams Printing, still on Chestnut Street, remained open until Dec. 31, 1999. R.H. Williams died sitting at the front desk at the newspaper office in 1968. Bill continued to work with his mother until her death in 1997.
Carlene and her mother-in-law were close. "She was a woman way ahead of her time. She collected and kept stuff. She would be proud of me if she could see what we have done with our stuff and some of her stuff," Carlene said. "She told me one time, 'You are the only person in the world I am afraid of. You could turn my son against me.'"
The Williames have combined their family memories into quite a collection.
They have the original furniture from The Thayer News office. Some of the many items on display include dishes, pictures, a fife from the Civil War, dolls, clothes and furniture.
"We are proud to call Thayer home. We are proud of our family history and our family heritage. We want to share our memories with our community," Carlene Williams said.
They invite the community to help in their celebration by viewing their collection of "stuff" May 29 from 1 to 5 p.m. They request that no more "stuff" be brought to them at their celebration. "Those who attend will see why," Carlene said.